Becky Beasley, Eric Bell & Kristoffer Frick, Oliver Laric, Mark Leckey, Simon Martin and Ed Atkins, James Richards, Jimmy Robert, Sean Snyder.
'The Imaginary Museum' brings together a contemporary group of visual artists with a site-specific installation of Antique plaster casts. The display of the statues reconstructs an installation shot taken in 1932 in the current Kunstverein spaces – then used by Munich’s Museum für Abgüsse Klassischer Bildwerke (Museum of Casts of Classical Sculpture). Probably unintentionally, the photographer joined two forms of reproduction – casting and photography – that were difficult to combine in the context of the Modernist program of the 20th century. The anachronistic reputation of these collections, together with the ‘worthlessness’ of their material, has marginalised the plaster copy from critical thinking.
In his text The Imaginary Museum of Plaster Casts, published specially to accompany the exhibition, art historian Sven Lütticken revaluates plaster cast collections and their influence on the activities of contemporary artists vis-à-vis the referencing and reproduction of visual sources.
'The Imaginary Museum' takes this text as its cue in order to examine the relevance of plaster cast collections within a contemporary context of art production.
Supported by Museum für Abgüsse Klassischer Bildwerke, München
The exhibition is funded by:
Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst
Suspended closure, suspended
by Jimmy Robert
A desire to be lead, just for your information
No discursive option since the adversaries are invisible
An open plan to clearly balance judgements
Automatic responses to organised pleasure
Structuring abstractions to imitate logic
Denying emotions nonetheless or rather intentionally
Gendering abilities to negotiate a path
Radical juxtapositions, yes radical juxtapositons
Allow the patriarchal figure to fade in
Please do not turn back
Allow yourself to slightly despise myths and constructs
Have your cake and eat it
Yes we can, yes we can…so we might just
The show must go on
‘Walk in an exaggerated manner around the perimeter of a square’
‘We’re nightclubbing, we walk like a ghost, we learn dances, brand new dances’
You are just ‘a slave to the rhythm’
Pursue beauty to its lair and slay it in amorous transports
Rouge noir garlands as though in a hurry, suddenly cornered at the foot of a
voicing uneven words of discontent
Helping masses of shapeless ideas to filter through
Decide for yourself and render the images sharper
Find comfort in the formulaic
Negating years of radicalism, showing society its spectacle once again
Identifiable references are bound to please, think of western subjectivity
The sole vivid note, now collapsing into a fathomless pit
Top, bottom or maybe versatile
Sophisticated range of submission or domination
The pink truth of positions
Observe the hyper-sensitivity of a brain fried by nitrates
Enjambements and other literary devices, do highlight the distance between us
Dishevelled hirsute after love
Suspended closure, suspended
Throughout Europe, one can see the scattered remains of a once prominent aspect of European culture: collections of plaster casts of ancient (especially Greek and Roman) sculptures. Omnipresent in the nineteenth century, modernism relegated them to the status of an embarrassment, something utterly old-fashioned, inartistic and alien to living art. In the Golden Age of cast collections, they played two essential functions: on the one hand, in the museum contexts, they provided the “general public” with an overview of the history of sculpture that no collection of originals could offer; on the other, in the context of art academies, they provided students with materials to copy and, ultimately, emulate. Both of these overlapping functions came under pressure in the decades around 1900.
Bart van der Heide
With 'The Imaginary Museum', Kunstverein Munich brings together a contemporary group of visual artists and a site-specific installation of Antique plaster casts from Munich’s Museum für Abgüsse Klassischer Bildwerke (Museum of Casts of Classical Sculpture).
The display of statues reconstructs an installation photograph taken in 1932 in one of the current Kunstverein spaces – then used by the plaster cast collection to display copies of Archaic Greek statues. Probably unintentionally, the photographer joined two forms of reproduction – casting and photography – that were difficult to combine in the context of the Modernist program of the 20th century.